Today we’re going to be looking at 5 of the healthiest snacks I’ve found on iHerb and tips on how you can choose your own healthy snacks.
Now before we dive into the nitty gritty, I just want to make a quick disclaimer. When I say “healthiest”, I don’t mean that this is the be-all end-all. I also don’t mean that any of these foods are going to change the game on your health and fitness journey. There’s no such thing, because if there were, then we would all be fit and shredded! The term ‘healthy’ in this context is being used to define all the little things that you do every single day that compound into something much bigger.
I feel it is appropriate to find Google’s definition of what a “snack is”:
So a snack isn’t a specific type of food, but rather, it is determined by the amount of food and when it is eaten (i.e. between meals).
To be 100% transparent, we don’t actually need snacks. If we are eating well balanced meals that are full of a diverse range of whole foods, we generally won’t feel the need to eat between meals.
But, real people aren’t perfect and perfect people are most definitely not real. So it is very normal to feel peckish and need a snack between meals. On days when this happens, including but not limited to, it could potentially be because you’ve expended more energy than usual (an increase in physical activity).
Or maybe you didn’t sleep very well the night before (lack of sleep triggers an increase in the production of the hormone ‘ghrelin’ which is what increases your appetite makes you feel hungry .
How To Read Food Labels
It’s standard regulation in most countries that ingredients on food packaging are ordered by quantity, from largest in quantity to least. So the first ingredient on the list is what the food product is predominantly comprised of.
Using my first recommendation from iHerb as an example, Peeled Snack’s Peas Please are predominantly comprised of organic pea flour, being the first ingredient in the list. The ingredient it contains the least amount of, is sea salt.
It’s a label that describes how specific ingredients were treated / managed in the process i.e. absence of artificial fertiliser, chemicals or pesticides and non-essential food additives or processing aids. As such, products with this label may attract a premium, but it isn’t to say these are ‘healthier’ than products without this label.
Understanding how to read food labels will greatly assist you in identifying the difference between a quality product from another.
How To Read The Nutrition Panel
The second thing next to the ingredient list is the nutrition panel. This is going to help tell us what the macronutrient breakdown of each item is. Macronutrients are nutrients required by the human body and large amounts daily; protein, carbohydrates and lipids (fats).
Ideally, your main meals, such as breakfast, lunch or dinner, should be a balance of each macronutrient to be a complete meal to fuel your body’s nutrient and energy needs for the day. As such, when having snacks, these should help fill the gaps in our nutrient intake (e.g. if you have trouble meeting your protein intake, something like a protein shake or a protein bar could be a good option as a snack).
My second recommendation from iHerb as an example of a protein bar is the BNRG Power Crunch Protein Energy Bars. Protein bars are a great option for on-the-go snacking and a small boost of protein. However, the downside is that they can be quite pricey and sometimes they don’t taste great either. I’ve been having these protein bars for years now and feel they are the tastiest ones I’ve tried with a relatively balanced profile. They come in a range of other flavours also but Choc Mint is my favourite (other flavours include: cookies and cream, dark chocolate, french vanilla creme, lemon meringue, milk chocolate, peanut butter creme, peanut butter fudge, red velvet, salted caramel, triple chocolate and wild berry creme).
Out of all other macronutrients, protein is generally better at maintaining satiety and hunger levels. Imagine a leafy green salad with some cherry tomatoes, croutons and a little bit of sauce. Now imagine the same salad, but with the addition of chicken strips and boiled egg. The salad with the extra protein added is going to keep you fuller for much longer.
Let’s briefly cover carbohydrates as well as this is one of the more common macronutrients, particularly in snacks (and is often misunderstood).
Short-chain carbohydrates (simple sugars naturally present in fruits, milk and other foods) and long-chain carbohydrates (complex carbohydrates such as starch, vegetables and whole grains).
Their distinguishing factors are their chemical structures which determine how our body breaks it down and converts it to use for energy. Short-chain carbohydrates are digested and absorbed into the bloodstream faster than long-chain carbohydrates, as there is less for the body to break down. As such, energy is distributed and maintained in a more gradual manner when eating long-chain carbohydrates in comparison to short-chain carbohydrates. Each has a place as part of a balanced diet.
My next two recommendations from iHerb are varieties of dried fruit, as a more convenient alternative to fresh fruit. The first one is the California Gold Nutrition Freeze-Dried Strawberry and the second one is the Made in Nature Organic Dried Mangoes. You may find in other dried fruit varieties that sugar is added to the process, but these ones are simply just what they are with nothing else added in between. Whilst I prefer fresh fruit, dried varieties can add tasty textures or just be a convenient alternative.
To all my cheese lovers, my final recommendation from iHerb is the Whisps Nacho Cheese Crisps. With the predominant ingredient being cheddar cheese, you are getting a decent amount of protein and fat in a tasty little bite!
Something to keep in mind when comparing different snacks to another is to note that businesses are the ones who determine what a serving size is for their snacks. When referring to the nutrition panel, you should always try to refer to the column that gives us the breakdown for 100g, rather than the ‘serving size’, which is going to differ from product to product.
|Peas Please||28||110||5||4.5||14||iHerb (AU)|
|Power Crunch||40||205||13||13||10||iHerb (AU)|
|Freeze-Dried Strawberry||28||100||1||0||14||iHerb (AU)|
|Dried Mangos||40||140||1||0||34||iHerb (AU)|
|Cheese Crisps||28||170||10||13||2||iHerb (AU)|
|Peas Please||100||393||18||16||50||iHerb (AU)|
|Power Crunch||100||513||33||33||25||iHerb (AU)|
|Freeze-Dried Strawberry||100||357||4||0||50||iHerb (AU)|
|Dried Mangos||100||350||3||0||85||iHerb (AU)|
|Cheese Crisps||100||607||36||46||7||iHerb (AU)|
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To finalise, the reason why we might reach for snacks is for convenience like in between meetings, classes, etc. It’s also not particularly convenient to pull out a full meal on public transport and especially if your hands are full!
The second reason would be for a little pick-me-up sometimes when you’re feeling the three o’clock afternoon slump. It’s not quite time for dinner yet and you’ve just finished having lunch and we just need something to keep us going until then.
As it’s important to have good snacks on hand, it’s also very important to be very conscious of our body’s hunger cues! If you’re not able to fit in a meal, at least try to get yourself something balanced that can accommodate your main meals.